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Appeal in Florida case over school masks and students with disabilities has ended

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The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals approved a joint motion from the parties to dismiss the case. The motion and the dismissal did not explain the reasons.

A federal appeals court has dismissed a dispute about whether an order by Gov. Ron DeSantis to prevent school mask mandates violated laws designed to protect the rights of people with disabilities.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday approved a joint motion from the parties to dismiss the case. The motion and the dismissal did not explain the reasons.

The case centered on an executive order that DeSantis issued July 30 to try to prevent schools from requiring students to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Families of children with disabilities sought a preliminary injunction against the order, but U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore rejected the request in September. That led attorneys for the families to go to the Atlanta-based appeals court, contending that the state violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and another law, the Rehabilitation Act, that protect the rights of people with disabilities.

The Atlanta-based appeals court had scheduled arguments in February before the motion for dismissal. In a Dec. 6 court document, attorneys for the state argued, in part, that the case was moot because the Legislature in November passed a law that prevented student mask requirements.

“The executive order at issue — the only thing plaintiffs challenged in their complaint — has effectively been superseded by a recent Florida statute that prohibits school districts from requiring students to wear masks,” the court document said.

“Enjoining enforcement of the executive order would have no impact on that statute, and plaintiffs’ qualms with the executive order’s provisions on student mask requirements are therefore academic.”